Aren't I?

17 replies
1 2
It sounds odd to me but some people are using it like "I am pretty, aren't I?"

Is it now acceptable?

Ciao,

IF [A]
Contributing Member1,408
In all but the most formal situations. Here is some online commentary:

The technically ungrammatical usage of "aren't" in questions where "I" is the subject can be considered a "forced" mistake, because there is no good grammatically correct alternative. There is no contraction for "am not;" we don't say "Amn't I going ... ?," and the uncontracted form, "Am I not going with you?," sounds so formal that it is not practical in most situations. Consequently, even though "aren't I" is technically ungrammatical, and can sound a bit jarring to the ear, it is considered correct in normal conversational speech.

Additional note:
Michael Swan: "Practical English Usage" Second Edition
"'Am not' is normally only contracted in questions, to 'aren't'"
"The question tag for 'I am' is 'aren't I'?: 'I'm late, aren't I?'"
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Why not "ain't I?" Is it incorrect?
Still substandard-- and gauche besides. An excerpt from the Am Heritage Dict:

'...[C]riticism of ain't by usage commentators and teachers has not subsided, and the use of ain't is often regarded as a sign of ignorance. •But despite all the attempts to ban it, ain't continues to enjoy extensive use in speech. Even educated and upper-class speakers see no substitute in folksy expressions such as Say it ain't so and You ain't seen nothin' yet. •The stigmatization of ain't leaves us with no happy alternative for use in first-person questions. The widely used aren't I? though illogical, was found acceptable for use in speech by a majority of the Usage Panel in an earlier survey, but in writing there is no acceptable substitute for the stilted am I not?'
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Intelligent FreakIt sounds odd to me but some people are using it like "I am pretty, aren't I?" (aren't I can only be used in a question. You cannot say "I aren't pretty."

Ciao,
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Anonymous:
Hello to all of you! I am an English teacher, and right now I am teaching all forms of verb "to be" to my students, all I want to know if "aren't I" is the only and correct form in the first person in interrogative, in present simple tense, if somebody has a certain correct answer, please mail me as soon as you can to this e-mail: (Email removed)
Hello Anon

Please read what has previously been posted in this thread.

In a nutshell, the contraction "aren't I" is standardly used in everyday spoken English.

Note also that "aren't I" is a negative interrogative, not just an interrogative!

Although the interrogative "am I" is quite common in everyday English, the negative interrogative "am I not" would tend to sound overly formal and stilted in the majority of situations in everyday English.
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Anonymous:
The information provided about this topic is interesting, because it contradicts all of the research I've completed concerning use of the phrase "aren't I."

In all other sources of correct grammar, both written AND spoken, one learns that "aren't I" is considered "atrocious English" (quote from GrammarErrors.com).

Thank you.
AnonymousIn all other sources of correct grammar, both written AND spoken, one learns that "aren't I" is considered "atrocious English" (quote from GrammarErrors.com).
Well, all these other sources are wrong.
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